This has been the only time I have actually lived in a city where a university was located that was also playing for a national championship. And this is not the only NCAA men’s basketball tournament that I have enjoyed. I really like college basketball when the tournament starts. But this year, since I live in Madison, there has been a special sense to this NCAA tournament. And I will not lie; I wanted to see the Badgers win it all. But even though they came up just short, these Badgers made this tournament a lot of fun.
I suppose it should have been clear from the moment Nigel Hayes began the first press conference by saying, “Before I answer that question, I would like to say a few words: cattywampus, onomatopoeia and antidisestablishmentarianism,” that this would not be a usual experience of a very good college basketball. And of course, it was followed by words such as prestidigitation and logorrhea. These guys made the tournament fun.
These players made the NCAA tournament less about future NBA careers and big money programs and more about what basketball is at its core, a game. And games are supposed to be fun, aren’t they? But given the big money that is part of the NCAA, the money that makes athletic coaches the top paid state employees in many states, it was really fun to see the fun part of a game return, if even for a brief moment.